The binding properties of the G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) serotonin 5-HT1B receptor were studied under exposure to AC (50 and 400 Hz) and DC magnetic fields (MF) in rat brain membranes. This was an attempt at replicating the positive findings of Massot et al. In saturation experiments using [3H]5-HT, 1-h exposures at 1.1 mT(rms) 50 Hz caused statistically significant increases in both the K(D) and B(max) binding parameters, from 1.74 +/- 0.3 to 4.51 +/- 0.86 nM and from 1428 +/- 205 to 2137 +/- 399 CPM, respectively, in good agreement with previous results. Exposure of the membranes at 400 Hz 0.675 mT(rms) did not elicit a larger increase in K(D) in spite of a much larger induced current density. DC fields (1.1 and 11 mT) had a lesser effect compared to AC fields at low values of K(Dsham), but decreased the affinity at higher values of K(Dsham). Modeling of the receptor-ligand-G protein interactions using the extended ternary complex model yielded good fits for all our data and that of Massot et al., showing that the AC field may act by decreasing the ability of the G-protein to alter the ligand-receptor affinity. The hypothesis is that the bipolar nature of the AC field explains the different nature of the effects observed with AC and DC exposures. These findings constitute one of the few documented pieces of evidence for cell-free effects of DC and extremely low frequency (ELF) AC MFs in the mT range.